Blog Post

All Are Welcome at CitSci2019 in Raleigh, NC

Welcome to Raleigh, Y’all!

We are delighted to host the 2019 Citizen Science Association Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina. Institutions like NC Museum of Natural Sciences, North Carolina State University (NCSU), and K-12 schools across the state have a long history of supporting citizen science efforts and we look forward to showcasing many of these initiatives at the conference. North Carolina is considered the birthplace of the environmental justice movement and we are excited to bring environment justice activists from across the state and nation to discuss the intersections of environmental justice with community science in a panel discussion on Friday evening, with planning for this event prominently including members of the West End Revitalization Association and the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network.

Friday morning’s keynote address by Raleigh middle school teacher Rachael Polmanteer, and her students will highlight some of the great citizen science happening in North Carolina schools. Polmanteer is a Kenan Fellow for Teaching Leadership, a program that supports professional development for STEM teachers in North Carolina and beyond. Saturday evenings keynote, Robb Dunn, is a professor of applied ecology at NCSU, where his lab explores topics spanning yeast diversity, shower head microbiomes, cat tracking, bee health, and more. NCSU supports citizen science initiatives across disciplines by providing resources and mentorship for students and professors through a Public Science Cluster that Dunn is a part of.

The Acrocanthosaurus — or Terror of the South— is the only real Acrocanthosaurus skeleton on display in the world. It is housed on the third floor of the Nature Exploration Center. Photo By Karen Swain.

The nationally recognized NC Museum of Natural Sciences houses seven floors of interactive exhibit space that span two city blocks that registered attendees can explore while enjoying drinks and appetizers during the opening reception on Wednesday evening. The Nature Exploration Center is full of natural history exhibits that take you from mountains to sea, and back in time to prehistoric North Carolina and highlights the extraordinary biodiversity in this state. Across the catwalk you will enter the Nature Research Center, home to state of the art research labs, interactive exhibits, and the SECU Daily Planet theatre. Saturday’s Citizen Science Festival, also held at the museum, will showcase citizen science projects based at the museum and beyond.

Getting Around

Look for the blue and green R-Line Downtown circulator for a free ride around downtown. Photo by Jack Hollingsworth

The convention center and conference hotels are in the heart of downtown Raleigh where everything you need accessible by foot, bus, LimeBike, or scooter. Directions to the convention center and parking locations are available here. Though there are no shuttles to the conference hotels, a Go Triangle bus picks up once an hour and takes 40 minutes to get to the downtown transit center- a 5-7 minute walk from the hotels. Once downtown, you will be a short walk from restaurants, museums, and unique nightlife- eliminating the need for a rental car during the conference. The R-Line- a free downtown circulator- picks up in front of the hotels and conference center every 15 minutes and is a great alternative for those with limited mobility (all buses are wheelchair accessible) and in poor weather conditions.

Making CitSci2019 Accessible to All

Both the Convention Center and NC Museum of Natural Sciences are highly accessible and ADA-compliant. The convention center lists accessibility features here, and has a detailed map with locations of all-gender/family restrooms and nursing facilities. All-gender/family restrooms and nursing rooms are available at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences as well, but may require getting a key from museum staff.

Photo credit: VisitRaleigh

One of the biggest concerns with hosting CitSci2019 in Raleigh was the lingering effects of HB2, a 2016 state bill that limited access to restrooms to transgender individuals, might have on our diverse participants. HB2 was repealed in 2017 and many of the non-discriminatory policies that local municipalities like Raleigh had put in place decades ago are now in effect again (see details here). Downtown Raleigh businesses have stepped up in light of HB2 and have worked hard to make sure that Raleigh truly is a place where All Are Welcome. Check out the visitors guides on the Visit Raleigh website for more information on restaurants, NC BBQ, museums, and a LGBT weekend guide and make the most of your time in this welcoming city.

We are pleased to be hosting our conference in a convention center as committed to sustainability as the Raleigh Convention Center. The facility is LEED certified, with a large solar array, energy efficient lighting and HVAC. Their catering partner, Centerplate, uses local products and biodegradable food-service items, and composts food wastes. Presentation rooms are equipped with technology-rich lighting, WIFI, high-speed internet access, and more. 

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